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Brussels, 23 March 2010

Consumers: Risks from cords and drawstrings in children's clothing.

When EU consumers buy clothes for their children they should not have to worry about safety risks. A recent EU market surveillance exercise, checked in particular, the safety of children's clothes with cords and drawstrings, with which there can be a risk of strangulation, especially for children up to 7 years. Market surveillance authorities in 11 Member States1 inspected more than 16.000 such garments between 2008 and 2010, and the results published today by the European Commission show that 1 in 10 items were in breach of safety requirements under the relevant European standard2 . The main aim of the project was to reduce the amount of unsafe children's clothing on the EU market, whether produced in Europe or imported. It resulted in many RAPEX notifications and corrective measures have been taken. It also enabled Member States to gain experience in working together. National authorities will intensify their work to ensure compliance with the relevant safety requirements and to inform and educate economic operators and consumers.

John Dalli, Commissioner in charge of Health & Consumer Policy said: "It is for each parent or carer to judge how best to manage the safety of their children. Our concern is that parents can choose garments for their children without having to worry about safety. We must be vigilant on behalf of our most vulnerable consumers and products reaching our markets must meet safety requirements. My message to parents is 'be aware' and my message to business is that you are responsible for the safety of the products you bring on the market."

The issue

European market surveillance authorities receive notifications of accidents where cords or drawstrings on children's clothes become entangled in bicycles, doors, car doors, or playground equipment, leading to severe injury or death. National accident statistics show that such accidents fall into two groups by age: i) younger children where entrapment of hood cords in playground equipment such as slides, result in fatalities; ii) older children where cords and strings from the waist and lower hems of garments are entrapped in moving vehicles such as bus doors, ski lifts and bicycles resulting in severe injuries or death from being dragged or run over by the vehicle.

The project

The project was carried out by authorities in 11 Member States under PROSAFE, the EU network of surveillance authorities3 between August 2008 and February 2010. They did 4642 inspections with particular focus on retailers but also wholesalers, manufacturers and importers, of which 61 were done at EU borders together with customs authorities. 16.300 garments were checked, 2188 did not comply with one or more of the requirements of the European safety standard. Almost 70 % of the non-compliant garments were clothes for babies and young children. Corrective actions were taken by the national authorities.

The recommendations

Manufacturers, distributors, importers and retailers must ensure that cords and drawstrings in children clothes comply with the European standard EN 14682:2007 or provide an equivalent level of safety.

Parents and caregivers can also follow basic recommendations, including:

  • Clothes for children up to 7 years (height 1.34 m) should not have cords or drawstrings in the hood and neck area.

  • Clothes for 7 and14 year olds should not have cords longer than 75 mm (7,5 cm) in the hood and neck area or drawstrings with free ends. Cords in the hood and neck area should not be elastic except for shoulder straps and halter necks.

  • Clothes for children should not have cords or drawstrings with free ends longer than 140 mm (14 cm) in the chest and waist area.

  • Halter neck-style children’s clothes should not have loose ends in the hood and neck area.

  • Children’s clothes intended to be tied at the front should not have tied belts or sashes longer than 360mm (36 cm).when measured untied from the point where they are to be tied 6.

  • If you already have children’s clothes that do not meet the above requirements you can make them safer by removing the cord or drawstring, cutting them off or shortening them.

  • If you have bought a garment that does not comply with these basic rules, you can report it to the market surveillance authorities in your country4.

What next:

Member States continue to monitor the safety of children clothes benefiting from best practice and the training acquired during the joint action. Cooperation with economic operators will continue to increase their awareness and understanding of the safety requirements they have to fulfil when placing children garments on the market. Certain requirements under the European standard need to be clarified, for easier interpretation and application both by market surveillance authorities and operators.

Please visit:


1 :

Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Ireland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, and Portugal.

2 :

EN 14682:2007 Safety of children's clothing –Cords and drawstrings on children's clothing – specifications.

3 :

Product Safety Enforcement Forum of Europe is a non-profit organisation established by market surveillance officers from various countries throughout Europe and supported by the European Commission - it aims to enhance market surveillance through best practice.

4 :

Link to RAPEX contact points

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